Thursday WNBA: O'Sullivan picks Aces at Liberty, Chicago Sky at Phoenix Mercury, Indiana Fever at L.A. Sparks
Seattle O’Sullivan so far: 3-2
Las Vegas Aces at New York Liberty, 7:00 pm EDT
The Picks: Aces -310 ML, Aces -6.5 (-118)
A brief glance at the schedule says New York has a slightly better record than Las Vegas. A deeper look, however, reveals the teams the Liberty have beaten aren’t quite as good as the teams the Aces have beaten. New York has gotten fat on Minnesota and Indiana, while Las Vegas’ three losses include one against the Seattle Storm and two against the Connecticut Sun, the two best teams in the WNBA so far. In particular, the loss to the Sun on Tuesday was hard-fought and sure to be motivating for the Aces. Las Vegas scores over four more points than New York (88.4 vs. 84.1). The Liberty also give up more than five more points per game than the Aces (83.4 vs. 78.3). Las Vegas’ defense is third-best in opponent’s FG% (40.8%), and sixth in forcing turnovers (13.4). New York turns the ball over more than any WNBA team except Chicago. The sting of its tough loss to Connecticut, coupled with a more talented squad, and that stingy defense, will help Las Vegas overcome New York’s home court and its additional rest. Take the money line, sacrificing a little value to account for the Aces being on the road; lay less money on the Las Vegas -7.5 and consider it gravy when the Aces cover.
Chicago Sky at Phoenix Mercury, 10pm EDT
The Pick: Chicago +1.5 (-124), Chicago ML (-114)
This matchup is the second bookend of a home-and-home set between the two teams and follows a wild game on Tuesday which was won by a half-court, Euro-step three-pointer shove-heaved by Mercury hero Kia Nurse. The game was a wild, up-and-down affair, but the Mercury pulled it out after the Sky allowed a ten-point lead to be frittered away in fewer than four minutes; I thought Chicago was the better team. With that heartbreaker, the Sky has now lost five in a row. I’m throwing the statistics out somewhat, here. If the memory of losing on a last-second prayer and the prospect of turning around a losing streak by beating that same team isn’t motivation enough for Chicago to put in an all-time effort, I don’t know what is. I’m taking the Sky and the points, and to win this one straight up.
Indiana Fever at Los Angeles Sparks, 10:30 pm EDT
The Pick: Sparks ML (-320)
In their last games, Indiana lost on the road to a very good Seattle Storm. Los Angeles lost on the road to a not-nearly-as-good Dallas Wings. Both teams have trouble scoring and shooting the ball. Los Angeles has shown signs of life, however, fighting hard against a frisky Chicago Sky squad that is better than their record indicates. Even if it's early in the season, this is a “take care of business” home game for the Sparks who, at 2-3, can’t afford to lose games they should win if they’re hoping to keep pace with the WNBA leaders. L.A. is too far away from home for Indiana, who spent far too much time on Tuesday looking like they couldn’t figure out how to put the ball in the basket against Seattle.